Low-Key Discussion

It’s time for a Low-Key discussion between Kristina and I on this episode of the Toy Photographers podcast. Per usual, our conversation hardly stayed on topic. Besides our talk about low-key lighting, we also explore how the pandemic is affecting our creativity and other dilemmas. Whether it’s too much time at the computer, struggling to connect with the viewer or the demoralizing effects of other writers—the creative process can be difficult.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

The images

Low-key photography is a genre of photography consisting of shooting dark-colored scenes, and emphasizing natural or artificial light only on specific areas in the frame. This photographic style is usually used to create a mysterious atmosphere, that only suggests various shapes, often graphic, letting the viewer experience the photograph through subjective interpretation.


I will be upfront and let you know that this was a difficult challenge for me. It became apparent immediately that I have much to learn about controlling studio lighting. I guess I will take Dave’s advice and experiment more! Honestly, I’m not happy with the image I created for the challenge. But I do have a fondness for the idea and will return to it again in the future.

Alien Invasion by Shelly Corbett
Lowkey by Kristina Anderson

Community images

We love our community submissions! Life would be pretty boring if we only talked about our own work. Kristina and I chose these images because they illustrate different interpretations of the “low-key” concept.

Vader, Part II by Scott Metzger

Scott’s image reminded Kristina of an image by Karl W Gullers. Check out this amazing self-portrait here.

I’m not falling asleep by Tobias Schiel
Charging by Sunny Ang
An idea takes shape. by Janan Lee

Next up!

Kristina and I hope you enjoyed this low-key discussion. Our hope is that you will use these podcasts as a jumping off point for your own learning process. In my experience creativity isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Next up is Greek Mythology. If you’re a regular listener you know that mythological stories often underly Kristina’s images. We challenge you to take the next few weeks and explore these classic stories. We want to see your interpretation of any Greek myth through your toys. And if you’re a little unsure what a Greek myth is, check out this list of the 29 best Greek myths for inspiration.

Please have your submission posted and tagged #tp_podcast_myth by December 4.

Once again, thank you for listening. If you can help us to spread the word about the Toy Photographers podcast we would be grateful!

~ Shelly

Do you use low-key in your images? Are you interested in this lighting challenge, highlighting the figure in an interesting way or creating a specific mood? Let us know in the comments so we can learn from each other. 🙂


  1. Ben

    Haven’t listened to Podcast just yet. Will as I’ve just started exploring indoor lighting and like the challenge and creative avenues with lowkey lighting.
    Not sure this image fully meets wiki definition. Still some of the elements are present.

  2. Miss__Feklista

    It was very interesting to know more about this genre of photography.
    Very beautiful photos, Shelly and Kristina! I love the mood expressed in them.
    And I really enjoyed the Community images – so many impressions.

    The next theme is very promising too! 😉 Thanks for the fun!

  3. Janan Lee

    Another enjoyable podcast and discussion. Like Shelly, I hadn’t noticed Kristina’s image was taken through the window. The story telling makes more sense to me now. I like the tip on rim lighting Shelly’s spaceship and it would be interesting to see that image revisited one day. I really appreciate the kind words about my Stan Lee image. I’d this idea brewing for awhile and I’m glad I finally realised it.

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